Don Mescall

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Abandoned Horses Across Ireland

The ISPCA says the numbers of abandoned horses has risen sharply of late.

Published Date: 25 January 2010

By Ailbhe Gillespie

The Irish Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ISPCA) has launched a nationwide appeal to highlight the plight of a large number of horses which have been abandoned across Ireland in recent weeks. The ISPCA continuously strives to help injured, emaciated and cruelly treated animals, including horses, but the society does not have the facilities or finance to deal with all of the horses that are no longer wanted by their owners. There is a misconception that the ISPCA is responsible for abandoned horses and the society wishes to clarify this issue.

"Horses which stray on to the road or common ground, or who have been deliberately dumped, are the responsibility of their owners, assuming they can be found. If an owner cannot be found, the responsibility falls to the relevant local authority or the Department of the Environment, Heritage and Local Government, which receives €2 million for this purpose from the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food, under the Control of Horses Act 1996.

"The ISPCA does not have responsibility for horses which have been abandoned and can only intervene in cases where there is evidence of cruelty or neglect" said a spokesperson from the charity.

Barbara Bent, Chairperson of the ISPCA, added: "ISPCA inspectors have witnessed an unprecedented number of cases involving abandoned horses in recent weeks, many of them suffering from starvation. Especially at risk are thin skinned thoroughbred horses who cannot cope with a combination of malnutrition and being left outside in the current weather conditions. Many of these horses will not survive in these circumstances.

"The ISPCA reminds members of the public to be vigilant and to contact the National Animal Helpline on 1890 515 515, or their local SPCA, to report any instances of suffering animals. If a member of the public wishes to report any stray or abandoned horses they should contact their Local Authority to make a report."

The ISPCA urgently needs donations to help in protecting animals at risk in Ireland and in prosecuting those individuals who are responsible for acts of cruelty.

Members of the public who wish to make a secure donation can do so online at